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There’s no market in over-55s for electric vehicles. Discuss.

Monday 13 January 2020 Data Insight & AnalyticsDemographic DataShopping Behaviour


Helen Davis's picture
By Helen Davis

Look more closely and trusted data tells a different story

The Daily Mail has spoken: one of its latest survey-based headlines is that over-55s in the UK are unlikely to buy electric vehicles (EVs). A recent article on The Mail’s website cites a KPMG survey of 2,001 motorists and reveals that 75% of over 55s have range anxiety, ruling them out of the market.

This may seem like a useful insight for automotive manufacturers and forecourt retail groups who are looking to target their EV marketing campaigns effectively. KPMG’s Head of Automotive says that young people seem far more willing to adopt EVs than over 55s. So why waste advertising and promotional spending on older people who are apparently set against the technology?

But turning your back on the over 55s as potential customers for electric vehicles could be a costly mistake. There are more than 20.5 million people in the UK aged over 55. We looked at our Acorn and TGI survey data to learn more about their profiles.

30% are attracted to innovation and advanced technology. That means nearly seven million of them are potentially receptive to adopting electrically powered vehicles.

Why over-55s are in a practical position to purchase EVs 

While KPMG’s research suggests that younger consumers are more likely to embrace the idea of owning an EV, this may not translate into sales for manufacturers and dealers. The forecourt price of electric cars is still considerably higher than fossil fuel cars. And whereas younger people tend to be nearer the bottom of the career and salary ladder, our data shows that almost 8% of innovative over-55s have incomes over £100K plus, with 48% on more than £40K. That puts EVs within their financial grasp.

Those eager younger consumers are also more likely to be spending any spare money on supporting a young family or on saving for a mortgage. And the properties they live in, as first-time buyers or renters, are more likely to be terraced or multi-occupation buildings, with on-street or communal parking. Whereas 54% of over 55s live in semi-detached or detached homes, where driveways are more common. And 38% own their homes outright, which means they’re more likely to be able to install their own charging point.

So there’s a good number of technologically open-minded over-55s who potentially have the necessary funds and the domestic infrastructure needed for an EV.



Why over 55s could be motivated to purchase

10% own three or more cars, offering more opportunities to replace a vehicle with an EV. For a three-vehicle household, perhaps a short-range EV is an attractive option for urban and local journeys, when there may be alternatives on the driveway for longer distances. Of course, owning three vehicles could suggest a lack of concern about environmental impact: education might be needed to convince these consumers of the opportunity to do their bit for the environment by adopting an EV to replace a traditionally fuelled car. Or perhaps, the technological novelty would be enough. More research may be needed into this particular segment.

It’s also misleading to suggest that older consumers are unconcerned about the environment.16% of 55-64 year-olds say they are specifically worried about pollution and congestion caused by cars. That’s a motivation to consider buying or using an EV for over three million people.

For people a decade older, the proportion of those worried about vehicle pollution is similar, at 15%. Such 65-74 year-olds today are generally part of an active generation who are just as likely to be driving as younger people. In fact, they may be more likely to drive: the high cost of driving lessons and insurance today mean that people in their 20s put off learning to drive until they can afford it. For younger people living an urban lifestyle that’s well served by public transport, there’s little motivation to qualify as a driver.


How can manufacturers and dealers influence these buyers?

It’s beginning to look as if over-55s could be rather an attractive market for EV manufacturers and dealers. So how should they engage with those people? It’s easy – and misleading - to assume that older consumers are fans of traditional media channels. Our Acorn data shows that in fact the most popular marketing contact method for over-55s is email. Very few are impressed by anonymous direct mail or telephone marketing. 

Nearly half use social media every day, with Facebook the most popular platform, adopted by 60%.

If range anxiety is a specific issue for over-55s, our Acorn and TGI data tells us that information and reassurance through trusted communication channels could be the key to driving EV adoption. It’s not that over-55s are the wrong market for the product: we can see that educating and convincing those open to innovation about the range capability of the latest EVs could be a highly effective way to unlock their potential.

Looking behind the headlines and single-issue survey data is key for marketers who want to uncover true opportunities for their brands and products. If you’re promoting an EV, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results of targeting a Facebook and email campaign at affluent retirees. It’s crucial to investigate all the angles that contribute to a group or segment’s motivation and ability to buy, and to tailor your products, services and communications accordingly.


If you want to explore the characteristics of customers who are ready to buy your innovative product or willing to learn more about it, we can help. Talk to a CACI demographic data specialist about understanding UK consumers in relation to your business and marketing goals.

A recent article on The Mail’s website cites a KPMG survey of 2,001 motorists on their attitudes to EVs and reveals that 75% of over 55s have range anxiety, ruling them out of the market. But is that really the case? What does CACI data have to say on the matter?

There’s no market in over-55s for electric vehicles. Discuss.